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Can Social Media Rank Users Based on their Motivational Values?

Can Social Media Rank Users Based on their Motivational Values?  

Chen, J., Hsieh, G., Mahmud, J., & Nichols, J. (2014). Understanding individuals’ personal values from social media word use. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. 405–414). New York, NY: ACM. doi:10.1145/2531602.2531608

This paper details the findings of a study in which the authors analyzed text contributions and surveys conducted with 799 Reddit users, examining participants’ word use to identify and interpret their value orientations. The authors employed Schwartz’s theory of Basic Human Values (BHV) as the framework for their inquiry, and provide a thorough discussion of the model within the paper. After collecting the data, the authors used the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) to measure and categorize word use, along with several other measures, and correlated the LIWC measures to the five value dimensions of the BHV model. The results showed strong associations between variables, indicating personal values can influence word use. The authors identified two main mechanisms of this influence: cognitive processes and attention focus. The findings also confirmed that participants’ word use on Reddit predicted their values, suggesting “the potential of ranking social media users based on their motivational values expressed in their word use” (p. 412).  

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